Residents of Recluse Place in Salt Ash are relieved after withdrawal of controversial DA

THE residents of Recluse Place in Salt Ash are breathing a little easier following the withdrawal of a contentious Development Application (DA) for one of the homes in their neighbourhood.

The property, owned by Atwea College, had been marked as a proposed new site for the secondary education provider Alesco Senior College to plant a brand new campus for up to 60 students.

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The application received significant pushback from the local community due to concerns that the residential site would require significant alteration to function as a school, and the potential environmental impacts on neighbouring properties would be severe.

Alesco College Executive Director Rowan Cox confirmed that “the site itself faced a number of challenges that would be difficult to overcome in the timeframe we were aiming for”.

“In addition to this, the considerable community concern indicated that at this site the goals of ‘safe, supportive, positive’ would be difficult to achieve.

“As a result and with great disappointment, we have decided to withdraw the DA to Port Stephens Council.”

Community member Matthew Clarke, who had found himself at the forefront of the response to the DA on behalf of his neighbours, said there is a tangible sense of relief in the street.

“This is not about any one of us, it’s about this little community of Recluse Place.”

Matthew had submitted a comprehensive objection to the DA upon which his neighbours had the opportunity to contribute their own responses.

“A number of the people may have had concerns, but felt as though they did not have the means to voice them, or else did not know who to approach,” said Matthew.

“I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to all the people who actually stood up and used their voices.

“I’d also like to thank Port Stephens Council, who were really receptive when I first began my own enquiries, and were very engaged with us as a community during this process.”

As far as Alesco Secondary College is concerned, Matthew hopes that they will be able to carry on their fine work in a more appropriate venue.

“I’d like to say ‘good luck’ to Alesco in their endeavours.

“I hope they find good lodgings.”

Speaking to the plans for the future, Rowan Cox said, “Atwea has turned its attention to other communities who have been waiting for assistance, however we continue to hope that we will be well placed to return to the Salt Ash area and achieve those goals for our young people and their families when the right location is found.

“Atwea has not yet determined what it will do with the asset.”

By Lindsay HALL

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